Member # 1
posted 14. June 2004 16:53
Science May 28, 2004
Evolutionary Biology: A New Synthesis or Just The New Synthesis?
A review by A. Townsend Peterson
The Speciation and Biogeography of Birds
by Ian Newton
Summary: The sweeping reviews of speciation and biogeography produced by the architects of the "new synthesis" (or "modern synthesis"), particularly Ernst Mayr, in the mid-20th century provided detailed summaries of ecological, distributional, and historical phenomena related to the evolution of biological diversity. The numerous recent advances in theory and technology, as well as the vastly improved information resources related to this subject, would seem to make possible fresh insights into this field. In particular, there has been much new thought about the process of biological diversification and its geographic dimensions, yet genuinely synthetic reviews of this fertile field have been few.
The appearance of a book boldly titled The Speciation and Biogeography of Birds brings hope of just such a review. Birds are the focus of intensive research in phylogeography, alpha systematics, distributional biology, and ecology, and would thus seem to be an ideal group on which to found such a new synthesis. Ian Newton, an ornithologist at the National Environmental Research Council's Institute of Terrestrial Ecology, Cambridgeshire, took on the big challenge of summarizing a truly massive literature into a coherent account. The book is attractive and illustrated amply with maps that--although simple and not particularly information-rich--quite aptly illuminate many of the concepts. It is also rich in examples illustrating the ideas and concepts that Newton treats.
[ 14. June 2004, 16:54: Message edited by: Moderator ]